Agency Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress on Monday urged the Election Commission to revoke the decision to allow people aged above 65 to vote via postal ballot, saying it was “arbitrary and unconstitutional”. In a letter to the poll body, the Mamata Banerjee-led party said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and at least 13 chief ministers in the country are above 65 years of age and “they will surely find themselves in an absurd situation where they can campaign but not be allowed to vote at polling booths”. It further said that the decision, which was taken last month in view of the coronavirus outbreak, poses a “threat” to the Indian democracy. “We consider this move of wanting those above 65 years of age to vote through postal ballots as arbitrary, mala fide, unconstitutional, and ex-facie a violation of Right to Secrecy of Vote, Right to Free and Fair Elections, and Right to Health of the Citizens of India,” TMC general secretary Subrata Bakshi said in the letter. “Our party calls upon the Hon’ble Election Commission of India to revoke the said amendment. We also wish that in future the Election Commission finds in its wisdom to intervene and bar the Centre from usurping the Election Commission of India’s powers vested by the Indian Constitution,” the letter addressed to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said. In October 2019, the law ministry amended the Conduct of Election Rules to allow people with disabilities and those aged 80 or above to opt for postal ballot during Lok Sabha and assembly elections. On June 19, the ministry notified a fresh change in the rules, allowing those aged 65 and above to opt for postal ballot. Noting that nearly 6 per cent of the population is aged above 65, Bakshi said the amendment seeks to effectively disenfranchise them from exercising their right to vote. “The Centre’s attempt to create a special classification for people above 65 years of age is arbitrary and without cogent reasons. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji, and at least 13 Chief Ministers in the country, are above 65 years of age. According to this latest amendment, they will surely find themselves in an absurd situation where they can campaign but not be allowed to vote at polling booths,” he said. “It is ridiculous to suggest that a candidate over 65 years of age participates in an election, carries out campaigns, and then casts a vote through postal ballot. It is an attempt by the Centre to treat people over 65 years as outcasts, for reasons best known to the Centre,” the Rajya Sabha member said. Bakshi said the decision is permanent rather than a temporary arrangement to deal with the ongoing pandemic and his party thinks that the amendment, issued without adequate consultation with the political parties, is antithetical to a robust and inclusive democracy. Claiming that the postal ballot system is highly susceptible to the coercive influence of many “nefarious elements” and thus leading to mass rigging of elections, he said the amendment directly interferes with the conduct of free and fair elections, which is the bedrock of Indian democracy.
Drugs probe: NCB may summon Deepika Padukone if needed
Paytm app removed from Google Play store
Salman Khan’s Bigg Boss 14′ to premiere on October 3
Kangana Ranaut leaves Mumbai for home state, calls her analogy about POK bang on’
Namit Das begins shooting for ‘Aafat-E-Ishq’
© 2020 State Times Daily Newspaper